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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 July, 2003, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
Teachers send message on violence
A quarter of assaults against teachers involve physical attacks, says union

Teachers are wearing badges warning that they have a "zero tolerance" of assaults against school staff.

In a campaign highlighting the threat of violence against staff, a teachers' union has given members badges to wear which say: "Zero Tolerance, No To Assaults, Yes To Respect."

This message is being brought to schools in the east of England, as part of a regional campaign by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT).

The union has already carried out a survey on abuse against staff in the area, and found 287 incidents over 30 days last year.

The union says that if this level of abuse against teachers were to be applied across the whole country, it would mean an incident taking place every seven minutes.


A quarter of these incidents involved physical attacks on teachers, with other cases involving verbal abuse, such as pupils swearing at teachers.

"This initiative will send a clear message to pupils that verbal and physical abuse will not be tolerated," said the union's general secretary, Eamonn O'Kane.

"Violence and disruption is one of the most commonly cited reasons for teachers leaving the profession. While physical assaults can result in teachers retiring on ill-health grounds, verbal abuse in the classroom and school corridors can wear down even the hardest resolve, leading to resignations.

"This zero tolerance campaign must be backed by the school. Teachers should be able to record incidents of abuse which should be acted upon as part of a vigorous campaign to tackle offenders, including the use of temporary and permanent exclusions," said Mr O'Kane.

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